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The San Francisco Giants are hoping to have seven-time All-Star catcher Buster Posey back in the lineup when they open a key four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

Posey, the 2012 National League MVP, hasn’t played since July 4 because of a bone bruise on his left thumb.

The Giants have gone 5-4 without Posey, keeping the Dodgers a game behind them for the N.L. West lead.

“He’s trending in the right direction,” San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler said before the Giants lost 2-1 at the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. “He played catch (Saturday) with improvement. He felt improvements swinging the bat.”

Kapler not only needs Posey’s bat in the lineup, but he’d prefer to have him behind the plate to catch Kevin Gausman, who was scheduled to start Friday in St. Louis, but had his start pushed back when his wife, Taylor, had complications with her pregnancy.

Gausman (9-3, 1.73 ERA) has the second-lowest ERA in the majors and was selected to his first All-Star team this season, though he did not pitch in the game.

Gausman has made two starts against the Dodgers this season and is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA. He’s 1-3 overall in his career against Los Angeles with a 3.82 ERA in seven games — six starts.

The Dodgers are also coming off a disappointing loss.

They were three outs from sweeping the Colorado Rockies in Denver on Sunday, but Kenley Jansen blew the save in the ninth and Charlie Blackmon hit a walk-off homer in the 10th for a 6-5 win.

Los Angeles also lost a key player to injury on Sunday.

Gavin Lux appeared to injure his hamstring while running out a grounder in the ninth inning. The third-year shortstop is expected to miss a few games, although Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the injury might not be as serious as first suspected.

“We’ll know more (Monday),” Roberts said. “Regardless, I see at least a couple days he’ll be down. We’ll make a decision outside of that (Monday).”

The Dodgers are planning to send right-hander Tony Gonsolin to the mound for the series opener.

Gonsolin (1-0, 2.13 ERA) has made two appearances against the Giants in his career, including one start, and is 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA.

The Dodgers used six relievers on Sunday and will likely make a roster move to bolster their bullpen, Roberts said.

There’s a good chance left-hander Victor Gonzalez will come off the injured list after being sidelined with plantar fasciitis since July 6. Gonzalez went 3-1 in 36 first-half appearances, including one start, with a 2.57 ERA.

“I think the possibility of him pitching for us Monday is pretty good,” Roberts said.

Gonsolin and Gonzalez will be up against a hungry San Francisco offense, which tallied one run in each of its final two games against the Cardinals.

“I think it’s really important to use past experiences to remind us just how good we are,” Kapler said. “More importantly, to remind us that very good offensive teams, very good baseball teams, go through periods of time when you’re just kind of dry.”

–Field Level Media